The Federal Communication Commission will soon vote on a plan to turn over most broadcast spectrum set aside for vehicle-to-vehicle communications to the wi-fi industry.
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai proposed the split yesterday. The commission will hold a preliminary vote on the scheme on Dec. 12, Reuters reports.
The spectrum at 5.9 GHz was reserved a decade ago for V2V services. The technology could ease traffic congestion and help cars avoid collisions by alerting each other to the movements of nearby vehicles.
But the auto industry has done little with the bandwidth until very recently. In the meantime, short-range wi-fi service developers are clamoring for access to spectrum they describe as too valuable to lie fallow any longer.
The U.S. Dept. of Transportation opposes any action that would restrict automotive use of the 5.9 GHz band. The agency argues that safety-related car-to-car communications in real time requires high speed and a complete absence of signal interference. DOT says such integrity is possible only when such services have exclusive use of their own slice of the broadcast spectrum.
Wi-fi services complain that it will take a decade or more to adopt such services, even if carmakers begin now to install the technology in all new models. In the meantime, proponents of 5G cellular technology are touting their option as a viable alternative to the 5.9 GHz band.
Carmakers are urging the FCC to take no action until it completes tests to determine whether the 5.9 GHz spectrum could be safely shared with wi-fi services.